Saturday, January 4, 2014

SOLAR WATCH: Giant Sunspot 1944 Appears On The Sun - One Of The Largest Of The Current Solar Cycle; Seen With The Naked-Eye From Earth; Harbors Beta-Gamma Magnetic Configuration; Threat For A Major X-Class Event!

January 04, 2014 - SUN - Sunspot AR1944, which appeared on January 1st, is one of the largest sunspots of the current solar cycle.

Image of massive sunspot 1944. The active region continues to rotate into a more geoeffective position,
has a complex Beta-Gamma magnetic configuration, and spans the size of over 1000 millionths. A
number of low to mid level C-Class flares are being observed around the cluster. There will
remain a chance for stronger M-Class solar flares during the next 24 hours,
along with a lower threat for a major X-Class event.

It's so big, people are noticing it as a naked-eye blemish on the solar disk. Daisuke Tomiyasu sends this picture from Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan:

"Sunspot 1944 was visible at sunrise on January 4th," says Tomiyasu. "I combined three exposures of 1/15sec, 1/100sec, and 1/640sec to create this HDR (high dynamic range) image."

Aside: Look carefully at the full-sized picture. There is a red fringe on the bottom of the sun and a green fringe on top. That's real. The colorful fringes are caused by refraction in Earth's atmosphere.

The effect is explained here.

Although the sunspot has been relatively quiet and stable since it first appeared on New Year's Day, a region of this size has the potential to produce significant activity. Indeed, NOAA forecasters, who say they are keeping a close eye on this behemoth, estimate a 75% chance of M-flares and a 30% chance of X-flares on Jan. 4th.

Updated look at the visible solar disk on Saturday. Solar activity remains at moderate levels. Sunspot 1944
continues to be the most active, largest, and threatening sunspot on the Earth facing side of the sun. The
active region was responsible for three low level M-Flares during the past 24 hours, including an M1.3
event at 10:25 UTC Saturday morning. Minor separation was noted primarily between the two large
leader spots, and the plethora of smaller trailing spots. There will remain a chance for a strong
solar flare within the next 24 hours. All other visible regions remain stable. Sunspots 1936 and
1940 are now located off the west limb and out of direct Earth view. No Earth-directed
Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) were detected during the past 24 hours.

On January 1, 2014, a major M9.9 Solar Flare was reported at 18:52 UTC around active region 11936. The eruption occurred while the active region was in an Earth-facing position which suggests the resulting Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) will have an Earth-directed component.

WATCH: Major M9.9 Solar Flare  - January 1, 2014.

UPDATE: Moderate Flare Detected
A slow eruption peaking at M4.0 in the vicinity of regions 1943 and 1944 was detected on Saturday afternoon. The event was associated with a 10cm Radio Burst (TenFlare) measuring 550 sfu and lasting 28 minutes, along with a Type IV sweep frequency event. More updates to follow regarding any possible coronal mass ejection (CME).

CME Update: Although hard to tell in this STEREO Behind COR2 image, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is visible following the M4 eruption on Saturday afternoon. A majority of the cloud looks to be headed south, however there may be an Earth directed component. More updates once Earth facing LASCO coronagraph imagery becomes available.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2014 Jan 04 1903 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Jan 04 1930 UTC
End Time: 2014 Jan 04 1931 UTC
Duration: 28 minutes
Peak Flux: 550 sfu
Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

ALERT: Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2014 Jan 04 1922 UTC
Description: Type IV emissions occur in association with major eruptions on the sun and are typically associated with strong coronal mass ejections and solar radiation storms.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham | Solar Watcher.

ICE AGE NOW: Arctic Blast Drop Temperatures In The U.S. To Lows Not Seen In Many Years - Deep Freeze Blankets Over 20 States; Affecting Over 140 MILLION People; At Least 13 Dead As Temperatures Continue To Plummet Below Zero!

January 04, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Get ready for bone-chilling cold you probably haven't endured in years.

A man walks through the snow as the wind kicks it up January 3 in New York City.

A deep freeze is spreading across much of the United States this weekend, making the nor'easter that just blanketed about 20 states with snow look like a mere curtain raiser.

Nearly half the nation -- 140 million people -- will shiver in temperatures of zero or lower by Wednesday.

The arctic blast threatens to sweep subzero lows as far south as Alabama and plunge much of the Deep South into the single digits.

Winter weather in the past week has claimed at least 13 lives, CNN has confirmed.

Michael Stanton walks between houses covered with ice in the shore town of Scituate,
Massachusetts, on Friday, January 3.

Eleven people died in road accidents -- including one man crushed as he was moving street salt with a forklift.

A man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia. And in Byron, New York, a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease wandered away from her home Thursday night and was later found dead in the snow in a wooded area about 100 yards away.

Opening act

The blast burst onto the stage in the northern Plains States early Saturday, hurling North Dakota into below-zero territory, as the National Weather Service predicted a day-long blizzard for the state.

Parts of Montana and Minnesota were feeling the same pain, the NWS said.

If there was ever a winter-toughened state, it's Minnesota -- but with this frosty bite on its way, schools in the state are keeping their doors shut on Monday.

"I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures," Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said.

Snow covers subway rails in New York City on January 3.

People go sledding in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, January 4.

Snow is piled high in front of a Home Depot in Boston on January 4 after a two-day winter storm.

People in the town of town of Embarrass, Minnesota, say they may break their cold temperature record of 64 below, set in 1996.

"I've got a thermometer from the weather service that goes to 100 below," resident Richard Fowlei told CNN affiliate KQDS. "If it gets that cold I don't want to be here."

Saturday's temperatures will look relatively pleasant by the time we get to Sunday, as the thermometer falls to near 30 below zero in parts of North Dakota. And the wind will drive chills down to minus 50, the weather service said.

In Chicago, the temperature was 16 degrees Saturday and was expected to plummet to 11 below zero on Sunday and 12 below Monday.

Chicago native Leo Londono, 30, said this is the harshest winter he's experienced in the city. From his apartment he can see large chunks of ice floating on Lake Michigan.

"It's so cold you don't want to step outside," he said. "There's wind chill. And then this huge Arctic air blast is supposed to come through and I don't want to even leave my home."

The low temperatures and wind chill are a recipe for rapid frostbite or hypothermia.

Pedestrians brave wind and snow as they cross New York City's Fifth Avenue on January 3.

Travelers wait in line January 3 at Chicago Midway International Airport.

A 66-year-old man died of hypothermia in Milwaukee on Friday, the medical examiner's office said.

The weather service's Twin Cities, Minnesota, division warns, "Exposed flesh can freeze in as little as five minutes with wind chills colder than 50 below."

This system will produce "the coldest air in two decades," the service said.

The danger of injury and death from the cold will spread with the cold front into the Midwest by Monday night.

Power outages were not as widespread despite blizzard-level winds in some places when the nor'easter passed through in the last few days.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence encouraged residents to do more than check on friends and relatives.

"In preparation for the inclement weather, I encourage Hoosiers to assemble an emergency preparedness kit with plenty of non-perishable food and water, fill any necessary prescriptions, ensure they have a safe heating source, avoid unnecessary travel and be careful if they must be outside." he said.

Upper Midwest

Sunday night in Chicago will see a shivering 16 to 20 below zero and -- once you factor in the Windy City's stiff breeze -- a chill of 35 below to 45 below zero.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is unfortunately not a domed stadium. Fans and players there will be outdoors and brave temperatures approaching minus 20 as the Packers battle the San Francisco 49ers for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

Some sportswriters speculated that it may go down in the record books as the coldest football game ever played.

The Packers organization and a stadium vending company will serve free hot chocolate and coffee to help fans withstand the deep freeze.

Snowplows clear snow from one of the runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on January 3.

As Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Friday: "This is not the norm."

That's is not the only game where fans will brave the freeze.

On Saturday in Philadelphia, the hometown Eagles will host the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game. Fans can expect temperatures in the high teens or low 20s.

The Eagles' website urged people to show up early, as officials expect that fans bringing in extra blankets and clothing will slow down the security process.

Marching on

As the arctic cold conquers about half of the continental United States, temperatures are forecast to dip into the minus teens through the lower Midwest. Snow will cover swaths from the Plains to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, all the way to New England.

Parts of the Midwest could see temperatures not recorded in 15 to 20 years -- for a painful couple of days.

Even areas as far south as Nashville could be frozen solid in zero-degree cold as the arctic air mass dives southward at the beginning of next week.

Flight madness

Thousands were stuck at airports nationwide Friday because of systemwide delays -- though at least they are not out in the frigid cold., which tracks cancellations due to weather and mechanical problems, said about 3,200 flights were canceled Friday within, into or out of the United States.

WATCH: Northeast Digs Out From Big Winter Storm.

Expect more of the same in the coming days. At 4 p.m. Saturday, 1,113 flights were canceled. About 500 Sunday flights have already been called off.

Though the temperature in Las Vegas was 52 degrees -- above zero -- passengers there were also feeling the winter's sting Friday.

Long lines formed inside McCarran International Airport at the counters for Southwest Airlines, which had canceled many of its flights to and from Chicago. The airline carries 40% of Las Vegas' passengers, according to Chris Hayes, an airport spokesman. - CNN.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H1N1 Pandemic - H1N1 Flu Surge In British Columbia Lower Mainland Lands People In ICUs As 3 More Die Of The Flu Virus In Michigan, With Dozen Others On Life Support!

January 04, 2014 - NORTH AMERICA - The number of people hospitalized due to a severe form of H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, this winter is climbing in North America, according to health officials.

H1N1 Flu Surge In British Columbia Lower Mainland Lands People In ICUs.

The chief medical officer for a B.C. Lower Mainland health authority says that more than a dozen patients are in intensive care, some on ventilators, because of the H1N1 flu virus.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder, with Fraser Health, said Friday that 15 patients, many of them otherwise healthy, young people, were recently admitted to hospitals in the region.

"It is a lot for us at this particular time, especially because there is not a lot of circulating disease in the community at this point, and so we're worried that this has happened to so many people so quickly," he said.

He says the ages of the patients turning up with H1N1 flu span the spectrum, and include those in their 30s. He also said at least one of the patients is pregnant, and also that one person may have died from this flu strain.

"I have one person who hasn't been confirmed, but I'm pretty sure did pass away from this," Van Buynder told CBC News.

Van Buynder said medical officials are seeing small pockets of H1N1 breaking out across the region, in a pattern mirroring the flu's spread in Alberta, Ontario and Texas.

The H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009, which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, prompted mass immunizations across Canada.

Van Buynder said anyone visiting a hospital or health facility in B.C. will either need to wear a mask, or be vaccinated against the flu — and he said that previous vaccinations against H1N1 may not help anymore due to mutations in the virus.

"Certainly we don't think everybody should be reassured by previously being vaccinated, and we'd like them to make sure that they go out and get it again," he said.

Fraser Health serves more than 1.6 million people from Burnaby to Hope, to Boston Bar. - CBC.

3 More Die Of H1N1 Flu In Michigan, With Dozen Others On Life Support.
Potentially deadly H1N1 — the influenza virus strain behind the 2009 pandemic — continues its resurgence in Michigan, with three more deaths reported by hospital officials.

About a dozen adults and children — patients who previously were healthy — have been on life support at the University of Michigan Health System’s hospitals because of the virus, according to the hospital system.

Three adults have died, according to a health system spokeswoman. An infant from central Michigan also has died from H1N1, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“These deaths are among previously healthy individuals. This is not the group that the public usually thinks about as being susceptible to serious illness with influenza,” said Dr. Matt Davis, chief medical executive for the state health department and a U-M professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases and of internal medicine.

Many of the hospitalized patients were transferred to U-M from other hospitals because their flu was so severe.

WATCH: H1N1 targeting young adults this flu season.

In addition to traditional ventilators, the U-M health system offers extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, technology for patients who can no longer breathe on their own. The machinery supports not only the patient’s lungs, as a ventilator does, but also the heart, Davis said.

It appears the sickest patients either didn’t get the flu vaccine or received it shortly before getting sick, said Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious diseases doctor at U-M and at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. It takes two full weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective.

“This looks like 2009, but this time we have a vaccine,” he said.

At the same time, patients in less-severe condition are recuperating in other area hospitals. According to state surveillance reports, 11 Michigan hospitals — part of monitoring efforts — reported 121 hospitalizations because of flu as of Saturday.

Flu activity was slow in the fall but surged in the final weeks of December, prompting the Michigan Department of Community Health to upgrade its flu activity reporting to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from “local” activity to “regional.”

Cinti said it’s tough to predict the trajectory of flu season going forward.

Extreme cold weather might shut down schools, which can be flu hot spots. But it also forces people to stay inside and in close proximity with those who might be infected.

The key, he said, is not the weather — it’s prevention.

(Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)
But some consumers remain reluctant, fearing they will get the flu from the flu shot or that vaccines cause autism — theories that research repeatedly has proven wrong, said Cinti, who also cared for patients in the 2009 pandemic before a vaccine became available.

Maria Young hears it too — what she calls “old wives’ tales.”

Young is the owner of University Pharmacy on the Wayne State University campus. It administers more than 5,000 vaccines or more each year, but there’s still plenty of resistance, too.

Some clients — even police officers and firefighters — are still squeamish about needles. And there’s a push back against public health campaigns and doctors’ advice, she said.

“People just don’t like to be told what to do,” she said. - The Times Herald.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Wave Of Violent Protests In Egypt - 17 Dead, Over 50 Injured!

January 04, 2014 - EGYPT - Brotherhood supporters set the Faculty of Agriculture building at the university on fire and damaged administrative offices inside before police stepped in, Al-Ahram reported.

Supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police
during clashes in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district on January 3, 2014.
(AFP Photo / Virginie Nguyen Hoang)

Also, law enforcement used teargas against 300 pro-Brotherhood stone-throwing supporters near the High Administrative Court building in the southern suburb of Maadi.

The county’s Health Ministry announced that five activists were killed in different districts in Cairo. A security source told Reuters, that they died from bullet wounds but it remains unclear as to who shot them: police or fellow rioters.

WATCH: Scenes of clashes in Egypt.

A man was also killed by the protesters next to his house, when he insulted the Brotherhood rally.

Deadly clashes also erupted in Alexandria when Islamists clashed with civilians using stones and birdshot before police intervened to stop the violence. A male protester and a woman were shot dead, medical sources announced.

Another demonstrator was killed by police in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia in clashes that happened near a mosque after midday prayers.

 In Fayoum, three protesters, including a student, died from gunshot wounds, while another university student was shot in the town of Minya.

Egyptians look at a police vehicle set on fire by Muslim Brotherhood supporters on a ring road in the capital,
Cairo, on January 3, 2014 as thousands of protesters backing deposed president Mohamed Morsi rallied
across the country before police moved in to disperse them, sparking clashes.
(AFP Photo / Khaled Kamel)

Witnesses in Giza told Al-Ahram that protesters had thrown Molotov cocktails at an armored police vehicle, setting it on fire, and shot at police officers trying to escape from the car.

In the meantime, four soldiers were injured by a roadside bomb targeting a military convoy in the North Sinai area.

The pro-camp of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi rejects the new constitution that was amended in July following a military coup.

Egypt’s interim government set January 14 as the start of a two-day referendum on a new Constitution.

In December, the Muslim Brotherhood was branded as a terrorist organization by the new government.

Furthermore, Egypt froze the assets of 132 senior Brotherhood members following a court decree in September which banned the Islamist movement.

WATCH: Islamist protesters clash with cops - 'Egypt slides back to Mubarak-style rule'.

On Wednesday, an additional 572 Brotherhood members had their assets frozen by the state which also took over 87 schools run by the Brotherhood.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood may not be ideal but they were elected and the prospects for democracy in Egypt now are virtually non-existent, Ivan Eland, a political analyst at the Peace and Liberty Center, told RT.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is no ideal group of people but if Egypt is to be moved to democracy, I think they’ll probably have to be let to rule Egypt. But of course they’re not being allowed to rule and the military has taken over and it seems they’re harsher than even the Mubarak regime, So I don’t see much public support in Egypt for the military government,” he said. - RT.